Press Trust of India

We do not have any doubt about India’s approach on Kashmir: Russian Ambassador

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New Delhi: Russia is not eager to know what is happening in Kashmir and those having doubts over New Delhi’s policy for the region as well as the situation in the Valley can visit it, Russian Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev said on Friday.

His assertion came during a press conference when asked why he was not part of a group of 15 foreign envoys including the US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster who visited Jammu and Kashmir last week.

On China’s failed attempt to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, the Russian envoy said Moscow has never been in favour of taking it to the global body as it is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.

On the visit of envoys to Jammu and Kashmir, he said Russia was not interested in knowing what was happening in the union territory as it does not have any doubt over India’s approach for the region.

“I do not feel that there was a reason for me to travel there. India’s decision on J and K is its internal matter which belonged to the constitutional space of India.

“It is not an issue in our bilateral ties. Those who believe this is an issue, those who are concerned about the situation in Kashmir, those who have doubt about Indian policy in Kashmir can travel to Kashmir. They could see for themselves. We never had any doubt,” he said.

At the same time, Kudashev said he did not receive an official invitation for the trip.

“My view is that Russian Ambassador to India should not be associated with any kind of activities which would put in doubt about India’s internal policies. This is not in our habit,” he said.

The government had taken a group of 15 envoys to Jammu and Kashmir to help them see for themselves the situation in the union territory. The envoys interacted with select political representatives, civil society members as well as security officials.

Asked whether he would like to visit Kashmir if invited, he replied in a lighter vein: “Yes, I would.”

In August, India announced withdrawing special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two union territories. Pakistan reacted sharply to the move and even scaled down the diplomatic engagement with India by expelling its envoy.

Pakistan mounted a major diplomatic offensive against India on its decision on Kashmir. India also reached out to major countries explaining the rationale behind the move.

Kudashev also said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will visit Russia on March 22 and 23 to attend a meeting of the Russia-Indian-China trilateral.

On China’s attempt to raise the Kashmir issue in the UN Security Council, the Russian envoy said it has never been supporting such action.

“We have never been in favour of bringing this issue into the UN’s agenda as it is strictly a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan to discuss on the basis of Shimla and Lahore declarations. It is not a matter to be discussed at the UNSC,” he said.

China, an ‘all-weather ally’ of Pakistan, on Wednesday made a fresh bid to raise the Kashmir issue at an informal closed-door meeting of the UNSC in New York. However, the attempt was stalled by an overwhelming majority of the member nations.

This is the third time China demanded a discussion on the Kashmir issue.

In August, it pushed for a UNSC meeting on Kashmir after the government scrapped J-K’s special status. However, the meeting did not yielded desired results for China as the member-states maintained that India’s move was an internal issue.

Last month, France, the US, the UK and Russia had foiled an attempt by China to discuss Kashmir at a closed-door meeting of the UNSC.

China has been critical of India’s reorganisation of J-K, and has particularly criticised New Delhi for making Ladakh a union territory. China lays claim over several parts of Ladakh.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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